Hey Falcoholics, I’m back with another edition of The Falcoholic’s Throwback Thursday series. This weekly segment highlights a former Atlanta Falcons player and discusses their life and what they did for the franchise.
Whether you’ve been a fan since the inaugural season, or just became a fan recently, this series will give insight on players from the past. This week we will be focusing on punter John James.
John Wilbur James, Jr. was born on January 21, 1949 in Panama City, Florida. John attended the University of Florida, and was the Gators starting punter in 1970 and 1971. During his senior season, John averaged 40.3 yard per punt. In 1978, John James was inducted the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame.
John James was not selected in the 1972 NFL Draft and became an undrafted free agent, eventually signing with the Atlanta Falcons. John quickly became important to the Falcons special teams unit, as he averaged 42.8 yards per punt during his rookie season.
John James quickly became one of the best punters in the NFL, and was selected to three-straight Pro Bowls from 1975-1977. From 1976-1977, John was a Second-team All-Pro selection, and the NFL’s Punting Yards Leader from 1976-1978.
John James finished his career punting for the Detroit Lions for part of the 1982 season, before spending almost three seasons with the Houston Oilers. John retired following the 1984 season, at the age of 35.
Spending a decade punting for bad Falcons’ offenses gave John James plenty of opportunities to punt the ball. Statistically speaking, he’s the best punter in Atlanta Falcons history. John James leads in every punting category such as total punts (873), punting yards (35,633) and longest punt (75).
There’s not a whole lot to say about punters, but they are necessary to field position, which can decide who ultimately wins the game. James was prolific at a time the Falcons really needed him, which can’t be underrated. Another punter from the state of Florida, Matt Bosher, has the opportunity to pass John James in the next few years as the Falcons all-time leading punter, in terms of yardage. Bosher would just need to punt for roughly six more seasons, with his current yearly average of almost 2,800 punting yards.
Let me know in the comments below some of your favorite John James memories. As always, you can find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. Thanks for reading, Falcoholics!